2. What recent discussions he has had on the future of emergency towing vessels in Scotland; and if he will make a statement. (905569)
I discussed emergency towing capability in Scotland with the right hon. Gentleman on 9 June, and we had an informal chat this week on that subject. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has consulted all interested parties about options for future provision beyond September 2016. I expect to make an announcement very soon.
We look forward to hearing the Minister’s announcement. The last stakeholders’ group meeting convened by the MCA received a risk assessment —a proper, substantial piece of work commissioned from the private sector—that made it clear that removing the tug would pose an unacceptable risk for the coastal and island communities of Scotland. When the Minister makes his decision, will he make sure that that risk assessment is on his desk and at the heart of his considerations?
I absolutely reassure the House that I understand the importance of maritime safety in those northern waters, from the point of view not only of pollution—we all know how difficult a major oil pollution incident can be—but of our seafarers at risk on the waters.